Defend Truth


AfriForum cannot hide behind monikers of civil rights and anti-racism


Ismail Lagardien is a writer, columnist and political economist with extensive exposure and experience in global political economic affairs. He was educated at the London School of Economics, and holds a PhD in International Political Economy.

AfriForum are not liberal, they are not non-racial, they are not anti-racist and they are not progressive. They use black people for window dressing and as a spectacle or for performative reasons, the way some political parties wear worker uniforms in public.

I have been writing for a long time. After a few diversions in global and national public policy-making, and in academia, I returned to writing more or less full-time over the past five or six years. I am, now, fully living the life of a struggling writer. I will deal with this briefly.

Being a struggling writer comes with its own problems. I honestly never know if I will be able to pay my medical insurance every month. Socially, you also have to accept being cast aside if you’re insufficiently wealthy, or you don’t behave like a good Wasp (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant), is expected to, or you act “brazenly” and “uncouth,” or if you drop words like “f***” around nice people. There really are people like that. They remind me of one of Marx’s outstanding passages, Sie Wissen das nicht aber sie tune es (they do not know it but they are doing it). Don’t let their smiles fool you.

Nonetheless, being a struggling writer is not a comfortable space to occupy. You lose the social capital that is supposed to be abundantly available when you interact with society, but you also liberate yourself from constant competitive lying. This does not mean I am always and completely honest, and say only the things that I think ought to be said. I mean, sometimes you want to tell someone to take their spoilt, selfish princess privilege and pride, and rend and torture themselves anally, but you just walk away.

Which brings me in a circuitous way to those things that I have never written about, not in any substantial way, in recent years, or that I usually avoid writing about completely. These are the things from which I just walk away, in a literary sense. First among these is Zionism. I will never write about Zionism. While I have very firm beliefs about Zionism, I don’t write about it.

Weaponising persecution

The other topics I avoid are “whiteness”, “white privilege” and “race”, in general. In terms of the latter (whiteness, or white privilege and race), I truly believe that there are people who know more about it than I do. I should add, in haste, that this is not to say that these things don’t exist, nor am I denying the danger they pose. It’s just that the more I read, the more I realise how little I know (about these and so many other things). And there is a particular kind of confusion when you are born into a Malay family – the state classifies you “coloured,” you join the Black Consciousness Movement, you travel the world as an African, but always have to explain your fair skin and green eyes – one of which turns blue sometimes – and you’re referred to as a “BAME” (black, Asian and minority ethnic), in the UK, then come back to South Africa, and you’re “coloured” again (according to the state), and a non-African (according to the populists). And so, sometimes I just walk away and don’t look back.

But seriously, one of the biggest things I took away from Black Consciousness very many years ago is not to make white people, or whiteness the pre-eminent reference point in my life, or in society. I will, on the rare occasion remind people what racism is, (see here) but the term itself has become so malleable, labile, abused and manipulated, it is also expediently applied and has become a vehicle for pecuniary gain in South Africa. In this way, you can claim that you were persecuted because of your race and then use that as a weapon against everyone, and anyone. It’s fine if people want to do that, I just can’t see the value in it.

Anyway, let me share an anecdote. A few years ago, I had dinner with someone (a white woman). She mentioned her hatred of racism. I was intrigued. But as the night went on, I noticed how dismissive she was of the (black) waiter, and (then again) of the (black) car guard. We said our goodbyes later that evening. She was, as I would find out a few days later, a keen supporter of AfriForum, which she described as a “civil rights” movement. I realised that she was one of those anti-racists. I lost her number. (See what I did there? That is one of those ways of lying that I referred to above).

AfriForum must accept what they are

AfriForum is not liberal, they are not non-racial, they are not anti-racist and they are not progressive. They use black people for window dressing and as a spectacle or for performative reasons, the way some political parties wear worker uniforms in public, change into expensive clothes and accessories in private, and sleep between 600-count Egyptian cotton, or silk sheets at night.

AfriForum is more than a racist formation. They are a white Afrikaner nationalist formation (Afrikaans is my mother tongue, but they don’t speak for me, they speak for a small group of whites), that rose out of dissatisfaction with their loss of power and use selective facts to state (selective) truths that they weave into grand narratives, claims and statements. 

Consider the term “white genocide”. Their claim is based on the murder of (only) white people in a country where more than 80% of murder victims are not white. They make statements about farm murders. Without traducing claims entirely – each murder is one too many – the truth is that more murders are committed in urban areas and not all murders on farms (which are essentially rural spaces), are of white people. There is no white genocide. These are simply the facts.

AfriForum is part of a global rise in ethno-nationalism, which is fundamentally opposed to “multiculturalism”, “globalism” and dark-skinned others. Why, for instance, would they go and kneel at the shrine of Donald Trump? Why would they sup at the table of white supremacists in the USA? Why would organisations like the American Renaissance, and their leader, Jared Taylor (Dan Roodt’s BFF), fall in line to support AfriForum’s claims of impending “anarchy”, and the Suidlanders’ warning that a “race war” is just waiting to happen.

Let me go back to the top of this piece. AfriForum bores me. They are (as is Andile Mngxitama), like a dried carbuncle in the gluteal fold of a mummy that can be traced back to the late Pharaonic and Greco-Roman era in about the 6th century of the common era.

I don’t usually write about them, partially because there are greater global forces that I spend my time thinking and reading about. Partially because there are people who are better informed about them than I aspire to be. And partially because I have a sense that very real conflict and a much more dangerous threat to the country will come from somewhere else. 

It will come from those people who have sanctified their hatred and politics of revenge on the basis of past injustice, and profess biblical forms of punishment where the sins of the fathers (those people who arrived from 1652 onwards – including my slave ancestors and indentured labourers from Asia), will be meted out on the children. It will come from the people who will initiate pogroms against people perceived to be non-Africans.

Until now, I really couldn’t be arsed to write about AfriForum. DM


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